The Oriental concept of Ayurveda with its focus on balance and rejuvenation particularly focuses on the significance of the digestive system with regard to the overall balanced functioning of the human body. One of the basic tenets of Ayurveda enshrines the necessity of healthy digestive system as the prerequisite to overall healthiness of the human body and mind.
With its belief that digestive system influences the functioning of circulatory, nervous and skeletal system; the concept rests on the basic principle that weakness in digestive system makes way for corresponding weakness in other organic system. According to Ayurveda consumption of food which is inextricably linked with digestion and its subsequent functioning or malfunctioning, the cause of improper functioning of the digestive system lies in the improper eating habits. Improper or imbalanced indulgence of senses which gives way to wrong eating habits serves to upset the all important digestive structure. Unhealthy eating manners triggered by the wrong use of senses aid to upset the physiological balance.
'Vata', 'Pitta', and 'Kapha' the natural substances included in human physiology are terribly disturbed on account of digestive disorders; the cause of which lies in the indulgent use of senses. Consumption of uncooked food items, oily stuffs and those enriched with moisture serve to bring about imbalance in the composition of air, bile and phlegm. While raw and uncooked food serves to upset 'vata'; oily and rich food upsets 'pitta' or bile. On the other hand, consumption of cold and moisture based food items puts phlegm or 'kaphya' into imbalance.
Ayurveda upholds the essential link between metabolism and digestion. According to it 'Jatharagni' an essential digestive fire plays significant role in digestion and assimilation by way of its direct participation in catabolism which serves to break down food particles in order to bring about digestion. 'Samanya Vayu' an important constituent of 'vata' or air also facilitates digestion by making for the absorption of nutrients. It seeks to relate 'jatharagni' and 'samanya vayu'; with both being directly proportional to one another. If the former facilitates the breaking down of food particles; then only the latter will make for the absorption of the vital nutrients.
Besides the above mentioned digestive facilitators; the other facilitators include 'Apana vayu', 'Kledak kaphya'and 'Pachyak pitta'. 'Pacyak pitta' is an essential ingredient of the digestive fire which aids in the breaking down of food particles. The second component of 'Apana vayu' controls the passage of undigested elements in forms of toxins and fecal wastes. Kledak kaphya refers to the mucous lining of the organs included in the digestive system. An excessive secretion of this protective mucus is also one of the symptoms of digestive disorders. The other symptoms include bloating, excessive formation of gas, constipation, loose motion and presence of foul smelling breathe. Burning sensation, vomiting and burping also feature amongst the various symptoms of digestive disorders. 'Ama dosha' involving the excretion of sticky mucus is also one of the important symptoms of digestive disorder.
Direct study of the patients' lifestyle in addition to the examination of the manifesting symptoms helps the Ayurved to diagnose the nature and pathogenesis of the digestive disorders. In keeping with the nature and pathogeneses of the digestive disorder; the line of treatment is decided. The treatment administered to overcome the symptoms of digestive disorders; includes both symptomatic and asymptomatic treatment seeking to eradicate the underlying cause. Asymptomatic treatment aims at the rectification of lifestyle and eating related defects. The chief culprit pertaining to faulty eating habits and those pertaining to general hygiene are generally addressed by an Ayurvedic health provider while treating various facets of digestive disorders. In modern times, Ayurveda which is still influential recommends the use of capsules based on herbal contents as remedial measures for digestive ailments.